tv Debate Night in America CNN October 22, 2012 7:00pm-9:00pm EDT
tell tony blair we're going alone. it d >> i don't understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. had nothing to do with 9/11. >> this is cnn. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com we're here in the cnn election center and we're counting down to the big finale of the 2012 presidential debates. >> two men, one choice and only 15 days until the election. >> here in the debate hall, we'll soon hear from the candidates and find out if they saved the best for last. >> the presidential candidates. nearing the end of a long campaign. seize their last best chance to appe appeal to voters nationwide. >> he's forgetting what his own positions are. i think it's called romnesia! they've been reduced to petty attacks and silly word games. >> round three could be their
most heated face off yet. >> i had a question and the question was how much did you cut them by? how much did you cut them by? >> i'm happy to answer a question. >> tonight, barack obama and mitt romney. in their final debate. the challenger, showing more confidence. >> you'll get your chance in a moment. i'm still speaking. >> the president showing more fig. >> i don't look at my pension. it's not as big as yours. >> this time, they'll clash our global threats. >> we'll make sure your military's so strong, no one would ever think of testing america. >> you like to talk tough. but what i know is al-qaeda's on the run and osama bin laden is no more. >> now, cnn's coverage of mitt romney and barack obama. battling for the job of commander in chief. >> i'm asking for your help to finish the job. >> i need you to go out there and find people that will come
join our cause. >> the race is close. the election is near and america's future is up for debate. this is lynn university in boca raton, florida, the site of tonight's debate. on this stage, president barack obama and governor mitt romney, they will face off for the last time before the november 6th election. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the the world to debate night in america. i'm wolf blitzer. we've seen two very different debates between these candidates so r far. one, polite, the other combative. we're soon going to find out if tonight's is fiery as the the last one as we count down to the
first exchanges of the night, we'll bring you a one -on-one interview with bill clinton. he sat down with fareed zakari and fireded back on critic. >> president obama has not been antibusiness. the attack on him is just not quite fair. >> we're going to hear much more from former president clinton on the economy and foreign policy. right now, we're mobilizing the full resources of cnn for our debate coverage. let's bring in our colleague, anderson cooper. >> thanks very much. during the debate tonight, we are going to bring you the candidate's statement, obviously in realtime, and we're going to take a look at getting immediate reactions to see what they are saying from a focus group of undecided voters. their response is going to look like that on the bottom of your screen. lines going up and down. men and women reacting. heading into this third and final debate, the race remains very close. let's check in with john king at the magic wall.
>> anderson, heading into this debate and in the final two weeks, a highly competitive election. 237 electoral votes. leaning president obama's way. 191 leaning governor romney's way, but tonight, nine toss-up states. all of them very close and all of them, all of them, in all of them, governor romney is in a stronger position now than he was entering the first debate. >> thank you. let's go to the debate hall height now and candy crowley. she moderated last week's presidential debate. lot different for you this week, candy. >> it really is. it's also a lot different stage in a different crowd here at lynn university. you will see that both candidates will be seated along with the moderator, cbs's bob schieffer. this is a smaller venue. most people here expecting that this will be a more sedate debate simply because first of all, they are seated. there's less chance for them to be sort of stalking each other
on the stage and second of all, in foreign policy, both men want to bring to the table some idea that they have a steely cool hand on the tiller of the chief of state. now, we want to bring in our jessica yellin to take us behind the scenes of the preparations for president obama. >> candy, aides to the president tell me that he is feeling confident tonight. foreign policy is in his wheel house. i'm told that he is prepared to be forceful in the debate and on the offensive. president obama's prep team hunker down in a hangar at camp david. nd, a mac up of the same set. reprising their roles, governor romney played by u.s. senator john kerry. and the the moderator, played by ron plain. and the prep team grew with a
new focus on foreign policy. in the daily sessions with the president, national security adviser, his deputy. message gurus, david axelrod and anita dunn. chief speech writer. david plouffe and high powered d.c. attorney, bob barnett. >> that's not what i do as president, as commander in chief. >> advisers say the last debate as hofstra was the strongest performance they've seen in public or private and they're hoping for a repeat. tonight, a twofold strategy. first, the president goes on offense. like we've seen on the trail. >> i told you i'd end the war in iraq and we did. i said we'd wind down the war in afghanistan in a responsible way and we are. al-qaeda's on the path to defeat. osama bin laden is dead and today, osama bin laden is dead. osama bin laden is dead. al-qaeda's on the run. and osama bin laden is no more. >> then to protect obama's
vulnerableties, the president will try to put romney on the defensive as he did in his libya answer during the last debate. >> and the suggestion that anybody in my team, the secretary of state, our un ambassador, anybody on my team, would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. >> what you saw in the debate here is a classic case of mitt romney not having his facts straight. >> michelle flournoy chairs the foreign policy shop. we asked how the president is likely to respond to some of romney's strongest ammunition. >> you said in the rose garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. was that a spontaneous demonstrati demonstration? >> plead proceed, governor. >> the president will be accused of change iing his story.
first sh the the administration said there were protests, then acknowledged there weren't. >> as the intelligence community learned about what happened, this information was shared. that is normal, natural, almost inevitable in any kind of unfolding crisis like this. >> other terrain, iran. tactic, turn the tables on governor romney. >> are you talking about using military force now? because if that's the case, you better tell the american people before they go to the polls. t. >> israel. challenge romney's claims. >> ask barack about whether the defense cooperation, our commitment to the security of israel, could be any better than it's been. >> and the president's own blunders, deflect the tax. including over this defense, about a missile defense system, caught on an open mike with russia's prime minister. >> my last election -- >> how does the president respond to the charge that he plans to do a lot, will have a lot more flexibility to do a lot of things after the the election? >> they had no idea what he was
talking about. could have been something very much in the interest of the united states. just don't have a clue. but they're irresponsible, consistently, constantly. >> and anderson, one of the strategic frames you should look for from the president tonight is to prod romney to be clear about what his alternatives are to the president's foreign policy, arguing that either governor romney has no alternative or he's pressing for military action in any number of places. in essence, he's either for the president's policy or endless war. >> alex, i mean, how does romney answer that when president obama pushes for more specifics because in his public addresses, there's not a lot of meat on the bone. >> well, how does he respond to the president who ran on hope and change and not much else? on the president who really doesn't have a forward looking
agenda for the next four years? i don't think the competition in that category is that tough. i think fareed was right tonight, saying that this, tonight is about presidential strength and character. we've talked before about the law of the car keys. before i give you my keys to take somewhere, i not only want to know where you want to take me, but can i trust you to take me there. >> big test tonight will be we know that a president's going to get hit with something unexpected and imageable. will this be a kind of man that is a character to handle it and the strength? obama has a problem. he has such a bright mind i think that sometimes, he has more of a judicial temperment. he weighs everything and sometimes, the the world and even americans see that as indecision. >> i see it differently. first of all, you do have a leader who's been able to do things that are extraordinary.
russia is on our side. against iran. there's only three ways to deal with iran. either you go kind of we're going to do something kind of bellicose the way romney has been or you try to put pressure, but by yourself. like pushing on a noodle. or, you have the strong approach of getting the world to isolate that country and that is what he's done. that is huge achievement. and you have achievement after that. i don't see it the way that you do. here's what i think you're voting for. i think you're voting for war or peace. i think you're voting and i think you've got to make a decision here. do you want war in syria or no? do you want longer war? >> and under policy, there's not a huge difference on syria or iran. >> on specific policies, romney is careful to say i'm not suggesting that you know, he says we want pressure on iran and then you say well, there's a lot of pressure on them. the next stage will be military pressure. he says no, i'm not saying that. on syria, he says the president
should do something. well, the next step would be an intervention. no, i'm not saying that, but in the last few weeks, he has been able to overturn what has been a remarkable strength of barack obama's. really sense the vietnam war for 40 years, the democrats were always playing defense on foreign policy. the republican party was seen as the strong party, the the tough party and obama, more than any democrat before him, was able to reverse that. >> he's been able to do that on libya. >> it was osama bin laden, was libya, judiciously scaling back and he had a 15-point advantage. that has been eroded. >> i think the context here has changed dramatically from what we thought it was from about two months ago when it looked like barack obama would come into this debate, a fairly sleepy affair in which he would have the upper hand. in the the last two months,
things have changed. not only has his lead been cut, but the world is in much more turmoil now and we're going to have a lot tonight about the turmoil in the middle east. >> and the romney people are saying there are a lot more questions than answers about b libya. >> and it's the final debate and there's huge pressure on him because the the map here at home is moving governor romney's way during this debate season. governor romney has successfully moved to the middle. a lot of democrats are furious for letting it get there. >> saying mr. president on paper, you're right, just haven't led. >> a romney adviser snuck out to talk to cnn about debate strategy and a body language expert is going to tell us what both candidates might be doing to connect with voters. first, this debate flashback. reducing levels. >> in 1980, carter was primed to
go after reagan about his record. >> governor reagan as a matter of fact, began his political career campaigning against medicare. >> going on the offensive and reagan just with humor and subtlety said -- >> there you go again. >> and then that line game famous. when somebody was repeating an attack, it made the audience feel, we've already heard this attack.
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that is the hall at lynn university, boca raton, florida. the final debate of 2012 begins soon and the romney camp has a new strategy to help the former governor go toe to toe with its sitting chander in chief. you spoke exclusively with someone from the romney campaign and what did you learn? >> since the last debate, romney has held only three campaign rallies. the rest of the time, he's been hunkered down prepping for the debate. we got some inside scoop from someone who's been with him. he is part of a small circle of romney advisers helping romney prepa prepare. what can you tell us that maybe a little nugget of color that could enlighten us? >> i don't think this is
necessarily a debate where you're going to see point for point scoring. >> translation, in tonight's debate, romney does not plan to be this scrappy contender. >> you'll get your chance in a moment. i'm still speaking. that wasn't a question. that was a statement. >> instead, cnn has told romney is practicing to come across as someone voerts can imagine as commander in chief, a sober and steady leader. one urgent goal, communicate in the wake of the deadly attack in benghazi. you may remember this moment. >> you said in the rose garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terrorer. >> please proceed, governor. >> want to make sure we get that for the record. it took the president 14 days before he call -- >> he did, in fact, sir.
the governor sort of fumbled. >> the ambassador has been assassina assassinated, killed since 1979. administration officials repeatedly asking for more security and being denied. >> how do you make sure what you just said doesn't get lost in the governor challenging the president on something that this kind of a side show, that misses the point? >> i think these debates are very as you know, live and interactive and can get heated on both sides, but the basic point, there have been misleading statements coming out of the administration that are worrisome. >> but romney's team knows he has to g beyond bashing and explain how his policies would be different. one stark difference, defense spending.
the president wants to slash the pentagon budget by $500 billion. cnn is told romney will also try to turn foreign policy back to his wheel house. what voters care most about, the economy. arguing the two are connected and he'll try to make his ceo experience relevant. >> he has a strong world view and a history of being able to successfully turn around really messy situations. >> so, you saying that there might not be that much of a difference between bain capital and the middle east? >> i think chief executives tend to be able to manage complicated organizations and he's dealt with that throughout his career. >> now, mitt romney has had some pretty high pro file missteps on foreign policy. he issued a much criticized
press release last month, whacking the obama administration without realizing that the ambassador and three others were killed. then, the stumble in great britain where he criticized their readiness for the games and romney advisers are expe expecting the president to bring all of those up. i'm told they had romney practicing all of his comebacks to those this week. >> i'm amazed what you said earlier, that romney's only had three public events since the last debate because the rest of the time, he's been focused on debate preparation. what else are they doing to mirror the real thing? >> last week, i told you about the fact they were having him practice on bar stools. this one maybe is more consequential, but maybe interesting many tell in how much they've been trying to mirror it. peter flaherty, one of romney's top advisers, he's been playing the moderator for all of these mock debates. he has gone to such lengths to
be bob schieffer, who is going to moderate this debate, that he's been wearing purple socks all week. this is a little known fact about bob schieffer. he has been wearing purple socks for a year and a half plus because he vowed to wear them after his alma mater won the rose bowl and they knew that inside the romney campaign. >> i hope bob has a lot of pairs of purple socks. >> we are told, i can report, he has a lot of pairs of purple socks. >> i was unaware of that. >> i have a lot of pairs of black socks. i assume you do as well. >> i've got like two. i'm cheap. >> i got a lot of pairs. we're going to obviously, bob schieffer is going to bring up what's going on in libya, what's happened in libya since the the 11th an veniversary of 9/11.
there's a lot of dispute when the administration knew how dangerous the situation was in bengha benghazi. >> question, should the administration have known more, say things that were inconsistent? it's important to go back. it's important to go back on june 2012, that was an explosion, so it should have been no surprise to anyone, especially the the state department and white house, there was a dicesy situation. then on september 11th, on the anniversary of 9/11, you had the u.s. ambassador and others killed. then the next day in the rose garden, this came up in the last debate and in several appearances after. the the president did talk about terror. >> no acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation. of the values we proudly shine on the the rest of the world. no act of terror will go unpunished. >> now, republicans would say he didn't specifically say the
benghazi attack and acts of terror. we'll see if that comes up. you heard the president saying acts of terror. one of the political questions is why were other administration officials saying things like this. >> do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premedicated or preplanned. >> that's after the president used the term, terror. susan rice. then before congress, you had this testimony. >> what we don't have at this point is specific intelligence that there was a significant advanced planning for coordination for this attack. >> what happened in benghazi was a terrorist attack. >> testimony to the congress, there in a statement from the secretary, saying this was a terrorist attack. that's on september 19th and days later while in new york, you get this. >> then i heard hillary clinton say that it was an act of terrorism. what do you say? >> we're still doing an investigation. there's no doubt that the kind
of weapons that were used, the ongoing assault, that it wasn't just a mob action. >> so, there are a number of policy questions, who knew what when among the policy e questions. should they have had more warns and then political questions, the president down playing risk of terrorism because politically in the campaign, he doesn't want voters to think al-qaeda and other terror groups are making any kind of a comeback, so a lot of policy questions and now, some political questions as well. >> thanks very much. i'm anxious to see how hard romney goes on this issue and how the president defends himself and strikes back. also, a body language expert is sharing and we'll hear from the undecided florida voters as well, who will give us the first verdict on who's doing well tonight and who's struggling.
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when the candidates walk out tonight, they'll be judged by not only what they say, but their body language will speak volumes as well. we spoke to an expert to give us a perspective. >> this is really a rubber match. our experts tell us that mitt romney won the first debate, president obama is second and for this third and final body bout, the advice for the candidates, watch their finger, their smiles and their wives.
debate number three, this time, it's physical. the last laugh in the body language olympics. >> obama, first debate, sold sadness. >> dan is a master of nonverbal communication. a president of a company called sensory logic. like many, he saw the president's first debate as a physical flop. >> obama's weakness, sometimes, he can't stand the stench in the trench. sometimes, he arches his head back, looks down his nose at the situation, peeved, as if he doesn't want to be there. >> but by the second debate, obama has his groove back, and the smile. >> obama's got that great, flashing smile. >> not to mention, his finger. >> it's almost like a baton or the orchestra director saying i'm the one who gets to lead this whole procession, you're going to be the follower.
>> romney was not slouch in the match, even unveiling a new face. he had both the disgust on the lip and nose sim ul tan yously. that's exactly what he wanted to do. he wasn't just on message, he was on emotion. the strong point for romney, he is just so consistent. >> but even the best can have an achilles heel or face. >> the smile is authentic, four seconds or less, so if romney's not careful, he becomes the energizer bunny of social smiles. >> both candidates can improve in this last battle says hill. work the the hands. >> embrace people. move your hands in a way that say come here, come with me, reach out. it's the same thing that any candidate wants toos. clinton was great at this. >> bill clinton himself says he thinks body language should be left untranslated.
>> who's grunted and who's smiling and all that, folks, that doesn't make a lick of difference in your life. >> okay, but if it doesn't matter if for these men, maybe it does for the mrs. ann romney. >> she showed anger because the mouth got tight. she showed she was distressed and sad. she jutted her chin upwards. and there was anger in the eyes. only thing you needed to know about how that debate turned out was ann romney for five seconds. >> and michelle obama -- >> she looked a bit spooked. did not want to be there. turned out the president did not want to be there. >> both candidates claim this will be their final campaign, so after tonight, they can give their debate skills, not to mention their eyes, brows, teeth and wives a rest. the thing about tonight sh they'll be sitting down, so our experts the tell us they want to
be careful not to hunch over and no fast, sudden motions because this is about foreign policy. they don't want to seem overly aggressive. >> notice you're using your hands, putting your hands like this. are we all getting more sensitive to our body language? >> i think it's a sign of power. no, i'm open to all ideas. >> you're bringing me into your conversation. >> it's amazing how much people analyze these. >> anderson, i don't know about you, but i've become very sensitive, the moving of my hands, my mouth, my chin. what do you think? >> i've never met a human that does this gesture. the thumb and the fist. according to focus groups, pointing is bad. >> do women do this? >> it was a bill clinton thing. president obama does it. all the politicians do it.
>> i do it, but i'm usually holding a coffee cup. >> in terms of where the race is now, how tight is it? >> bush v. gore, up late, how do you want to look at this? >> both campaigns say this. we can't win without ohio. a lot of them are focused on one state. privately, they can see florida seems to be moving governor romney's way. their lonlic tells them virginia -- the huge population there, the highest unemployment rate and largest housing krzyzews crisis. wisconsin probably tilting to the president. i was just e-mailing with somebody in new hampshire, four electoral votes who said we could be it. the romney campaign just went up on boston television. they're down a bit in new
hampshire, but it's close and how close might this be? romney campaign yesterday or today, portland, maine because there's one congressional district there where they think they can get the electoral votes. split it by congressional district. they're going to go fishing. >> but the president can win without ohio. it's very hard to see a way. >> the trend continues, it's getting hard e. the way the map is trending today, it's getting harder. >> well, if you count iowa perhaps going perhaps for romney. the state of virginia going for romney, but i think romney has a tougher, a tougher route in the electoral college. if he loses ohio, it's hard for him. >> i think two things are clear. one is that the first debate had a more dramatic impact than any debate. fareed was just talking about. >> even more than the nixon
kennedy? >> i think so. i think it just really transform ed the dynamics of the race. i think it was a game changer and at the second debate, i thought he, i thought the president might stop romney momentum. he's still bleeding. >> i have never seen in the campaigns anything like it because you remember nixon kennedy, there was no incumbent. but also makes it a much more -- incumbent, who's generally like to be in the situation where you know, if you had look add at the polls before that and just did the averages, obama was leading by more than three or four in almost every one of the battleground states, which is why the intrade numbers, a 75% chance. and all of a sudden, everything flipped with that. >> but here's what happened. but you had a summer of an assault on mitt romney.
and then suddenly, you saw in which they painted him as an extremist. >> almost as the incumbent. and then people looked at him and said, wow, he doesn't seem so -- >> money not well spent? >> it's like the advertisings executive said i know 50% wasted, i just don't know which 50%. barack obama's problem is that he made mitt romney unacceptable, but that mitt romney's now out of the box. we met an acceptable alternative in the fist debate and the electorate was changed. if that's the case, would you really want to debate on foreign policy? no, you'd rather have a debate on the economy. try to again go back to bain. i do think you're going to see both these guys tonight say foreign policy's critically
important and we can't predict strength at home. the the debt is our biggest foreign policy. crisis and we have to fix it and this president -- >> i think both of them try to get back to the economy and i think one of the things that president had to do, he wants to get out of afghanistan. romney's waffling. we're spending $2 billion a week in afghanistan. $2 billion to spend in any of these american cities. $100 billion a year. i think there's a way, this sort of hesitancy on romney's part could be an economic issue. but i don't think that some of these other issues with regard to the economy, like china, that has not been discussed well enough in the lead up. i think there's a big discussion to be had about china. i don't think romney is as credible. >> candy crowley is going to tell us what is going on behind the scenes at a debate right
now. she knows from her experiences, plus, bill clinton's advised the next president about avoiding another disaster. first, another debate flashback. the republican nominee and governor michael dukakis. >> governor, if kitty were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer? >> no, i don't and i think you know i've proposed the death penalty. >> losing that passion at that moment may have hurt him clearly in that debate and in that election. [ ross ] the streets of monaco,
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introducing zzzquil, the non-habit forming sleep-aid from the makers of nyquil. ♪ people are now in. lynn university. the folks who are there, they're getting ready for the big, big debate. we're getting closer and close tore this, the the third and final presidential debate and you can bet the activity backstage is picking up right now. the the tension certainly as well. candy crowley knows firsthand what goes on behind the scenes as moments like this, the moderator less than a week or so ago. candy, take us a little bit behind the scenes. what did you experience, what do you think bob schieffer, the candidates are experiences right now? >> let me first just tell you
that at this time last tuesday, i was actually found a room that they had for me and was there alone. so that final kind of hour and a half other than make up and hair and all that stuff, i was by myself. i felt like, you know what you know. you know what the rhythm is going to be and who goes first. i know bob schieffer, as do you, he is a pretty mellow, laid back guy. i don't think there's any last minute cramming. i think it's sort of deep breath in, deep breath out. i want to get into the candidate's minds as well and i want to bring in paul begala and ari fleischer. ask you guy to reverse roles here. if you were advising mitt romney, knowing what you know, you would tell him in these final, you're with him alone now. what do you say to him? >> i would say you've got to walk back some of these accusations that you're too hot to attack. there have been too many times when the democrats, i think
fairly, have pointed to romney's statements calling the withdrawal tragic. it's a war weary country. the president has the bert of the argument in the polling. this country wants to come home and rebuild america. the president has to better that argument. >> how? >> walked away from the whole tax plan. >> you're not going to call him etch e sketch guy. here's how you would handle this. he's going to come at you and basically, they've told us this. governor, the president's going to come at you and accuse you of having one option, and that's war. and you say, sir? >> i'm trying really hard. he's been very quick on the trigger. my prediction is is that he'll just walk it back as he did on the tax cuts and everything else. >> maybe i shouldn't have played this game with you. ari fleischer, you're in there with the president. this is his last debate.
90 minutes. biggest audience he's going to have. you tell him to do what? >> resigning. even worse than i am. and i set the bar really low. mitt romney sound as if he is a risky proposition for the american people. i'll turn it around, i have met with the soldiers. the families of those who have fought for our country and lost a loved one. no one in this country ever wants to go to war. the best way to prevent war is to make sure iran doesn't start one. there is a solid way for mitt romney to be the peace candidate who draws the strong line and that's what mitt romney's task is tonight. >> we'll be back with you. i'll have you put your normal hats on.
we'll be back with you. wolf, back to you. >> good try, candy. thanks very much. let's boil down the most important things to look at in tonight's debate. john king is standing by at the magic wall with fareed. >> we know libya will come up, but some other world challenges will come up. let's talk here because the president and governor romney have at least rhetorical differences on iran. some of the sanctions go back a long time. these go back 20 years. then more in 1994 in the obama administration that put the sanctions against petrol chemical products. it's a bigger question, isn't it? >> the the fundamental question in iran is going to be issue of military force because governor romney in the primaries was very tough on iran and essentially, implied or threatened he'd use military force. he implied he wouldn't allow iran to get nuclear weapon
capability, let alone a weapon. he's recently said my bright line is the same as president obama. which is that i don't want them to have nuclear weapons. if that's the case, it's going to be tough to show a distinction. >> let's move on to afghanistan. america's longest war. back to the beginning, 2002. it was candidate obama who promised, he said he would end the war in remark, but promised to surge troops in afghanistan. and the president says we'll be out in 2014. governor romney doesn't dispute the the date. beyond troop levels, there are serious levels in afghanistan. >> the serious issue is that the surge hasn't really worked. president obama did in fact triple the number of forces. it's not exactly clear what it did, but governor romney's going to find it hard to make that case because it's not like the american people want these troops to stay there. so the draw down is quite
popular, whether or not it stabilized afghanistan and i think most americans feel this war has gone on long enough. >> don't look for romney to talk mu much about that going on. this shows imports from china. but still they're way, way up. if you go back to 2002, they're up. exports are down because of the recession as well. they'll talk about this as an economic issue. governor romney in ohio says the president sacrificed manufacturing jobs, he's not tough enough. when you talk about china, is it just an economic issue? is it a question of their military growth? >> i think here you have a real distinction which is governor romney says if president, on day one, he would label china a currency manipulator which allows them to then slap tariffs on china. remember the chinese will then retaliate with tariffs of their own. they might do other things. we've got to keep in mind this is a very complicated relationship. they are our creditors in some sense. not entirely. they are also huge market for
us. potential market in the future. they are going to be the world's largest economy. so governor romney is going to have to -- he's going to be tough on china, but president obama might well come back and say these are the two most important countries in the world economically. do you really want to start a trade war between the united states and china? this is an issue which could have real world consequences were governor romney to become president. >> of three of the countries there we know will come up and the issue of china is during that next term. we'll watch as the debate in these countries and others getting closer and closer. >> we'll see how quickly they pivot to domestic issues from these international issues as well. while you watch the debate tonight, you can joint conversation at cnn.com/debatesliveblog. the obama and romney camps may want to hear what our focus group of undecided florida voters has to say. that's coming up next. they are the people who will rate the candidates'
performances in realtime and only on cnn. this, the former president bill clinton answers this question -- is he a different kind of democrat than president obama. good evening. the television and radio stations of the united states. >> the first debate in 1960 coincided with the age of television. >> the candidates need no introduction. the republican candidate, vice president richard m. nixon, and the democratic candidate, senator john f. kennedy. >> seeing that face of nixon's without makeup, watching him sweat, seeing his anxiety come through that screen, certainly gave the edge to jfk. so it showed the power of television, the power of an image, not simply the words that are part of the debate. ♪
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president obama and former governor romney are both getting ready to debate one last time tonight. we have a focus group of undecided voters standing by to give us instant reaction. the group is from florida, the battleground state that's hosting tonight's debate. cnn's soledad o'brien is joining us from orlando with the group. soledad, give us a little preview what we can expect. >> you bet, wolf. our focus group is in orlando, florida, we're about 200 miles away from the folks who are watching the debate in person in boca raton. it is a random sample, a very
narrow slice, people both undecided and likely to vote. cnn has said that's roughly 3% to 8% nationally of the entire electorate. they're going to use these dial testers tonight. they're going to take this dial tester. if they like something that they're hearing, they're going to dial it all the way up to 100. if they hear something they don't like, they'll dial all the way down to one. we'll watch that on the screen because as they're watching the debate we'll see lines that correlate with what they're feeling. are they liking it, are they not liking it. we'll get to watch them watching the debate. i also we're going to find out what exactly they want to hear, one of the conversations we've been having is are they really undecided. how is it possible with 15 days left in the election that they haven't made up their minds. tim, if i may, what's your last name? >> lamb. >> tim lamb. tell me, why are you undecided? what exactly do you need to hear and do you think you'll hear it tonight? >> well, i hope i will. but i'd really just like the candidates to be truthful and honest and tell us their opinion
versus talking negative about the other candidate. >> is a question and an answer on foreign policy going to be the thing that decides it for you? >> it could well be. especially with all the things going on in the world today. would look forward to see what's happening in the debate. >> we're looking forward to see what you're seeing happening in the debate as we watch all the folks here in our focus group tonight. wolf? back to you. >> soledad, thank you. we also had a focus group of undecided voters rate the obama-romney town hall debate. then we measured the reaction of undecided ohio voters as they listened to the candidates. green line represents the men, the yellow line is for women. we're showing you the candidates' debate low points to drive home the moments that did not play well with undecided voters. let's begin with the president's. it came at 10:25 p.m. eastern near the end of the debate. the question was on assault weapons but the president ended up talking about teachers. >> this is part of the choice in
this election. when governor romney was asked, whether teachers, hiring more teachers, was important to growing our economy, governor romney said that doesn't grow our economy. >> the question was -- mr. president, the question asked was guns here so i need to move us along. >> i understand. but this will make a difference in terms of whether or not we can move this economy forward for these young people and ereduce our violence. >> i understand. >> that was the president's lowest moment according to our focus group. mitt romney's lowest point happened around 10:06 p.m. eastern. he was asked about his stance on immigration but pivoted to talk about his investments. >> any investments i have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. and i understand they do include investments outside the united states, including in chinese companies. mr. president, have you looked at your pension? have you looked at your pension? >> i've got to say -- >> mr. president, have you looked at your pension? >> you know, i don't look at my pension. it's not as big as yours.
>> overall there were more lows during the presidential debate than during the first debate, seven for romney, three for president obama. most likely because of their second debate, the face-off there was so contentious. cnn's debate coverage continues right now. tonight, barack obama and mitt romney in their final debate. just two weeks before the election, the stakes are high and the tension is even higher. >> i don't believe people think that's the case. that wasn't a question, that was a statement. >> very little of what governor romney just said is true. america's security is on the line as these candidates spar over international policy. look for the deadly attack on u.s. diplomats in libya to come up again. >> it was very clear this was not a demonstration. this was an attack by terrorists. >> you don't turn national security into a political issue. certainly not right when it's happening. this hour, a one-on-one interview with former president
bill clinton on america's economic security. he's responding to republicans who say barack obama is no bill clinton. >> the attack on him is just not quite fair. now, cnn's coverage of mitt romney and barack obama, battling for the job of commander in chief. >> i'm asking for your help to finish the job. >> i need you to go out there and find people that will come join our cause. >> the race is close. the election is near. and america's future is up for debate. ♪ this is lynn university in boca raton, florida. the presidential debate sear ri is ending in a crucial battleground state. we're waiting for president obama and former governor mitt
romney to appear on this stage and give voters one last chance to compare them side by side. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. the debate night in america. i'm wolf blitzer. our polling shows each of these candidates has a debate win under his belt. tonight will be the tiebreaker as we get closer to the first questions of the evening, we'll bring you a one-on-one interview with former president bill clinton. cnn's fareed zakaria asked him if he and president obama are different kinds of democrats as republicans claim. stand by for that. that's coming up. we also have the full force of our political team devoted to bringing you comprehensive debate coverage. let's go to my colleague, anderson cooper. >> there is a lot to cover in the hours ahead. i want to remind our viewers, what you're going to see during the debate, we're going to clock the president and governor romney to see how much talk time they each get overall an our focus group of undecided florida voters will react to what the candidates are saying in realtime. their responses, as you see,
will be on the bottom of the screen, lines going up and down, men and women. latest polling shows obama and romney neck and neck in florida, state hosting tonight's debate. john king is tracking the state of the race. >> that debate in florida, florida one of the key battlegrounds. as we wrap up the debate season we can say with certainty -- this race is as close as it gets. momentum has been by an large during these debates to governor romney. we ended the last debate advantage obama but the romney campaign feels better about florida and a lot better about north carolina. both campaigns say in the last two weeks this could be the biggest prize of all. democrats saying they can't win without it and maybe neither can we. let's go to the debate hall right now. cnn's candy crowley was the moderator of the last debate. she's standing by. candy, we're getting closer and closer. >> we will. i can tell you that for bob schieffer, the moderator from cbs news, for president obama, for governor romney, this is the
longest hour. they are now as ready as they're going to be. i can tell you that at this moment all three of them are thinking, okay, let's get on with this. this is a very anxious hour for all of them. they are today in their smallest venue at least in terms of the numbers of people that are right here in this audience. but there is the last chance of these two men making a good impression to such a big audience. stakes are so high, especially when you look at those polling numbers showing them dead-even in our cnn poll of polls. i want to bring in now our jessica yellin. jessica, i know that you interviewed president obama recently and talked about foreign policy, including the battle against terror. the president has dramatically increased the use of armed drones to target terrorists. do you expect that to come up tonight? >> well, i know especially critics of the policy would really like it to, candy, because the president rarely addresses not just the use of drones, but his criteria for targeting terrorists with the
drones. in 2011, the u.s. -- well, anwar al awlaki, a u.s. citizen who was a cleric living in yemen, was killed in a drone strike, as was his son. this raised legal and ethical questions, so in my interview with the president, i asked him what is his criteria for the use of lethal force. >> my first job, my most sacred duty as president and commander in chief is to keep the american people safe, and what that means is we brought a whole bunch of tools to bear to go after al qaeda and those who would attack americans. drones are one tool that we use, and our criteria for using them is very tight and very strict. it has to be a target that is authorized by our laws. it has to be a threat that is
serious and not speculative. it has to be a situation in which we can't capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the united states, and this is an example of where i think there's been some misreporting. our preference is always to capture if we can because we can gather intelligence. but a lot of the terrorist networks that target the united states, the most dangerous ones operate in very remote regions and it is very difficult to capture them. and we've got to make sure that in whatever operations we conduct, we are very careful about avoiding civilian casualties. and in fact, there are a whole bunch of situations where we will not engage in operations if we think that there's going to be civilian casualties involved. so we have an extensive process
with a lot of checks, a lot of eyes looking at it. obviously as president, ultimately i'm responsible for decisions that are made by the administration. but i think what the american people need to know is the seriousness with which we take both the responsibility to keep them safe but also the seriously with which we take the need for us to abide by our traditions of rule of law and due process. >> sir, do you personally approve the targets? >> i can't get too deeply into how these things work, but as i said, as commander in chief, ultimately i am responsible for the process that we've set up to make sure that folks who are out to kill americans, that we are able to disable them before they carry out those plots. >> are the standards different when the target's an american? >> i think there's no doubt that
when an american has made decision to affiliate itself with al qaeda and target fellow americans, that there is a legal justification for us to try to stop them from carrying out plots. what is also true though is as american citizens, they are subject to the protections of the constitution and due process. >> finally on this topic, even brennan said that some in government struggle with this. do you strug. >> caller: this policy? >> oh, look, i think that a president who doesn't struggle with issues of war and peace and fighting terrorism and the difficulties
of dealing with an opponent that has no rules, that's something that you have to struggle with. because if you don't, then it's very easy to slip in to a situation in which you end up bending rules thinking that the ends always justify the means. and that's not been our tradition. that's not who we are as a country. our most powerful tool over the long term to reduce the terrorist threat is to live up to our values. so it's very important for the president and the entire culture of our national security team to continually ask tough questions about are we doing the right thing, are we abiding by rule of law, are we abiding by due process. and then set up structures and
institutional checks so that you avoid any kind of slippery slope in to a place where we're not being true to who we are. >> now you can consider the drone war a signature aspect of what some people call the obama doctrine. limited use of american treasure, american blood, for maximum impact, especially in the war on terror. on the flip side, anderson, some critics call it a remote control war where you never see the casualties and there are too many, especially civilian casualties, who are forgotten. >> it is really the number of drone strikes under this administration has been extraordinary in terms of the escalation of drone strikes from the last administration. let's talk about it with our analyst, gloria borger, david gergen, john king and gloria borger. who has a tougher job tonight? >> i think mitt romney has a
very tough job tonight. he has to be aggressive without being bellicose. he has to define what his vague policies have been, particularly as he laid out in this foreign policy speech in early october. and he has to try and put the president on the defensive. and you know, mitt romney has to look at women voters. he can't sound like he wants to go to war in iran or extend the war in afghanistan. he just can't. so it's going to be a tough act for him. >> here's the odd thing also for romfully. there is a coherent critique of the obama foreign policy. unfortunately, it comes from the left. if you listen to what jessica was saying, the issues on which obama can really be criticized are guantanamo, drones. the surge in afghanistan. trip manying the number of forces. but romney's not going to go there. obama has conducted a kind of tough fairly unsentimental foreign policy, been very strong on the counterterrorism part, not so interested in the
counterinsurgency, the nation building. that's a sophisticated nuanced issue. it is much tougher to find a point of leverage which is, again, why libya has been so convenient and so useful over these last few weeks. >> i have some disagreement with that view. i do think that president obama has many accomplishments to his credit and, again, bin laden being at the top. i think his use of drones surprised a lot of people because he's been more muscular in his foreign policy. but the last few months have seen an outbreak of violence and a drift in the middle east, and two-thirds of this debate tonight is going to be focused on the middle east. it is extraordinary that we've giving so much time to it. i do think that illustrates that there are things going wrong in the middle east that mitt romney can take advantage of. i think at the speech in early october had the foundation for a speech he could make tonight. the choice is not between war and strength, the choice is
between strength and weakness. >> they point to libya as leading from behind. >> yes. i would just make one other point which surprised me -- let me just make one last point that surprised me. there have been six foreign policy debates at the presidential level since 1976 with an incumbent at a podium. the challenger has won four. >> it's easier to look at things going wrong in the world and say, you should have fixed it. >> to that point, he's the incumbent. romney has to step over the credibility threshold, can people close their eyes and say if god forbid, there is a 9/11, something unpredictable in the world. as the challenger you have more credibility thresholds to step over. he stepped over in the first debate. is he a president. did he talk about the economy. did he look like a president standing next to the current president. in this one yes, people have to close their eyes and say, yes, he is the commander in chief. biggest lesson from that interview, being president -- i've covered several -- is so different from running for
president. to think there's president obama. when he ran four years ago, did anyone think gitmo would still be open? there would be more drone attacks than during the bush administration? you'd have a more robust counterterrorism? being president is very different. think that's why the gut character leadership test is more important than any specificity on any country. >> but on the libya issue, to david's point, mitt romney has taken a couple of whacks at libya and it hasn't worked. maybe by this debate, he'll finally get it right. >> but the specific question which the voter last debate asked president obama about, the intelligence on benghazi, president obama didn't answer that question. he very quickly moved on. it became effective for president obama because had he that very dramatic answer. we'll see if the moderator, see if mitt romney tries to focus more of the president's answer on what he knew and when and what he said and his administration said publicly. wolf asked mitt romney about some of the issues likely to
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it's debate night in america. we're countsing down to the final face-off between the presidential candidates. we're only about 45 minutes or so away from tonight's big debate. when president obama and former governor romney appear on stage together tonight in boca raton, at lynn university in boca raton, florida, the moderator will be bob schieffer of cbs news. this is the only debate designed to focus exclusively on foreign policy, but we also expect some discussion on issue number one for most american voters -- the economy. let's go to debate hall and cnn's candy crowley who
moderated the second presidential debate for us. candy? >> wolf, i was not in the hall prior to the second debate but i have to tell you that compared to denver, that very first debate, this is a pretty lively crowd. just in terms of the -- you can feel the excitement level,. as we know, this is their last 90 minutes to make a really good impression on the largest number of voters that they're going to have the attention of for the rest of the campaign between now and november 6. you can feel that kind of excitement here in the hall. i can assure you, they'll get very quiet very soon but right now that kind of excitement, that sort of feel that this is really something special, this is really a -- one of those milestones in the campaign. you can feel very definitely sitting in this hall. >> for both candidates, they want to win over undecided voters and energize their respective base voters as well. mitt romney recently had a warm-up for tonight's debate. he gave a speech that was very
critical of president obama's foreign policy, especially in the middle east. i interviewed mitt romney and i pressed him for specifics on what he had's do. in syria you said you'd identify members of the opposition and ensure they obtained arms to defeat bashar al assad's tanks. how do you make sure those weapons don't get in to the hands of terrorists or al qaeda? >> well, wolf, this is a part ofmakering sure that we're shaping events as opposed to just being at the mercy of events. it means that we would have intelligence resources. we would also be working with our friend in the region, particularly the saudis, as well as the turks that are very closely involved in syria. we'd work together with them to identify voices within syria that are reasonable voices, that are moderate voices, that are not al qaeda or any jihadist type group. we'd try and coalesce those group together, provide them perhaps with some funding. other kind of support would include, as you indicate, weapons so they can defend
themselves. those weapons could come from the turks or from the saudis. but the key thing here is not just to sit back and hope things work out well. but to recognize iran is playing a major role in syria and we, through our friend in the region, must also be playing a role to help shape what's happening there and make sure that we rid ourselves of mr. assad and don't have in his place chaos or some kind of organization which is as bad as he is, or even worse, take his place. >> speaking of iran, the israeli prime minister benjamin yetten yah n netanyahu answered, is there any daylight between you and the prime minister. >> there's no daylight between the united states and israel. we have coincident interests. she share values. we're both absolutely committed to preventing iran from having a nuclear weapon. my own test is that iran should
not have the capability of producing a nuclear weapon. i think that's the same test that benjamin netanyahu would also apply. i can't speak for the president in this regard but i think that there has to be a recognition that there are boundaries that the iranians may not cross. let's also recognize that we have a long way to go before military action may be necessary, and hopefully it is never necessary. hopefully through extremely tight sanctions, as well as diplomatic action, we can prevent iran from taking a course which would lead to them crossing that line. >> prime minister at the u.n. spoke of the spring or summer as some sort of deadline. if israel were to launch a military strike against iran's nuclear facilities and you were president of the united states, would you back up israel? >> we have israel's back, both at the u.n. but also militarily. i would anticipate that if i'm president, the actions of israel
would not come as a surprise to me but i would meet with prime minister netanyahu, i would speak with him. i've indicated that my first trip as president would be to israel. so what woo would happuld not b that would be a chirac to me but i can tell you this -- that the crippling sanctions do have an impact. they are having an impact on iran's economy right now. >> you've interviewed him a number of times. does he speak differently about foreign policy than he does about domestic policy in terms of his comfort level? >> he's so much more comfortable talking about domestic economic issues. he knows that subject, given his business experience. he was governor of massachusetts. when we talk about foreign policy, he's a little bit more tentative, a little bit more nervous. he doesn't know the subjects as thoroughly obviously as the president of the united states who's been dealing with this intimately for four years now. when i interviewed him in july? jerusalem we got into some sensitive issues about settlements and jerusalem being israel's capital. he was briefed -- he obviously
knew what he was talking about but i could see he was a little tentative. i'm going to be watching closely to see his comfort level tonight on these sensitive issues. >> and see how much they bboth y to bring it back to domestic policy. bill clinton has an interview coming up next. only one person has debated mitt romney and barack obama in a presidential debate. that's senator john mccain and he'll join us live coming up. [ male announcer ] now you can swipe... scroll... tap... pinch... and zoom... in your car. introducing the all-new cadillac xts with cue. ♪
university, boca raton, florida. third and final presidential debate just 15 days to go before the presidential election. only a handful of people know firsthand what president obama and governor romney are going through right now. bill clinton is one of them. cnn's fareed zakaria recently sat down with the former president to talk about foreign policy and the economy and 2012 politics. >> do you think bebe netanyahu is right that the united states needs to draw a clearer red line with iran with regard to its nuclear capabilities? >> well, because i was president, and because my wife is secretary of state, i have to be very careful what i saw about this. but what i know is that the idea that the united states and israel are working closely together on this is not true. they talk all the time. president talks to prime minister -- >> just say that again once because you said the idea that
the -- they are. what you saying is that they are not talking together. >> the idea that they are not working together is inaccurate. i know that the president and prime minister talk all the time. i know what hillary's doing. i know that the security services work together. and i think had this is the most difficult of all questions, how to handle this. there is no easy answer. if we -- with all the scenarios for military action have huge collateral costs which you yourself have noted in your columns, and that explains why substantial number of distinguished israeli military and intelligence officials has said they don't think an attack is warranted. i also think it's different what you say to countries in public, what you say in private. and so i think the president's
desire to keep his public options open is the correct course at this time. i think that when you say something in public, whatever it is, 1 of 2 things happens. when people call you on what you said. you either got to do something about it and deal with perhaps unintended negative consequences, or you don't and people think you're weaker. better to have them wonder what you're going to do and communicate privately in more explicit terms. >> whoever gets elected has to deal with the fiscal cliff. what would you recommend? >> that as soon as they can they reach a bipartisan agreement for a ten-year debt reduction program that has what you have to have if you want to reduce the debt. you got to have three things. you have to have appropriate spending controls, you have to have an appropriate revenue stream, and you got to have some economic growth.
if you take any one of those three things out and you start with the big debt, you don't get there. so the simpson-bowles commission recommended that we adopt a ten-year plan and delay its implementation for a year. but write it so that you couldn't repeal it, like have 60% a requirement to change it. adopt a ten-year plan. that would increase confidence around the world. we're going to be serious for a decade, everybody else can make it, too. spend this time when interest rates are literally below inflation. people are paying the american government to hold their money. and have one more year where we invest in our teachers and police officers and firefighters and nurses, keeping them on the job and bringing back more infrastructure funds. there are lots of other things we can do that i think would make a big difference in the short run but i think the trick is, invest now but adopt a really tough debt reduction plan for the next decade.
>> a lot of people heard you at the convention and said -- these are republicans -- they said he was great, but he's a different kind of democrat from barack obama. are you a different kind of democrat? >> i think that a lot of my republican friends have reacted to the rhetoric about letting the tax cuts lapse on upper income people in a way that obscures president obama. president obama has not been anti-business. there have been -- i don't know -- way over a dozen tax cuts just directed at small businesses. he's committed to relieve them of $10 billion worth of regulatory burdens that they face. we have had a period where he has not imposed new taxes on anybody hoping the economy would heal. he has simply said that the debt problem is huge. it can't be solved by cuts
alone. and since people like us who are upper income groups benefited from the growth in the last decade and most in the tax cuts, we ought to kick in a little help reach the goal. i think that if you just look at the policies he's followed, at the things he did to try to bring manufacturing back to america, to try to get america back in the front of the parade on solar and wind an these other new energy technologies which are powering lots of jobs in germany and china and elsewhere, that the attack on him is just not quite fair. and, he offered $3 trillion or so debt reduction plan to congress. so it's not true that he's not serious about dealing with the debt. i think that image they have has been unduly affected by the political rhetoric of the season and what the people are saying
about him. >> we're joined by fareed now. president clinton has taken a hands-on role out on the campaign trail. >> he's loving it. remember, everyone talks about he loves the limelight. he think he's passionate about public policy, he's passionate about government. the detail with which he can explain to you what the president should do, what the secretary of state should do, he thinks about these issues, he games them out. it is really because he's absolutely passionate about it. so i think at some level the relationship between barack obama, hillary clinton and bill clinton is one of the most adult relationships in america right now because, they've had history, there's a past that had to be overcome. but it is fundamentally because they all do care very passionately about the substance of what they are talking about. >> he looks in good health, president clinton. >> he was looking fantastic. he told me that his goal is to get to his high school weight. but he's headed that way.
>> he's a guy who takes a joy in politics, unlike either of these two candidates here. you get the sense with bill clinton that he loves the process of getting to where you're going to get. he loves the policy, loves the politics. i think the two men on the stage tonight, the politics is more what you have to go through to do what you want to do. >> that comes across. >> it does. i think it does. >> he's getting much more satisfaction out of the clinton global initiative which has gone both domestic as well as international. now it appears hillary will be joining him there after she leaves the state department. he has given the best speep ch anybody this campaign. his numbers are the highest of anybody in the country. he's having a really good time. this is -- his post-presidential years i think have been much more rewarding than he might have plaj have imagined. he's got the real possibility that his wife could one day be in the white house. >> i lived through a lot of of
dunkin' donuts and mcdonald's. the president back in the day. he does look good now. he'll be in that four-letter word called ohio. >> candy crowley is standing by with special guest, senator john mccain. >> anderson, thanks. i am here with senator john mccain, as they say the only other person on planet who has debated both of these men. when you go out and there's that handshake, what's going through your mind in that point? are you sizing each other up or are you just thinking let's sit down. what's going on? >> i think it varies with every individual, but in my case, it is that i wanted to make sure that i had all my ducks in a row. that i was fully prepared. in all due respect to moderators' intelligence and eng new ingenuity, you really now 8 of the 10 questions. they're obvious because they're salient issues of the day. you don't want to talk too fast, you want to be coherent. so it's more trying to make sure you are relaxed and going through what you are prepared to
say. >> as you met both of these men on stage, were you thinking -- trying to size them up or you were just -- >> no. >> shake hands, sit down. >> yeah. wouldn't trying to size them up. i knew them. it wasn't as if it was first encounter. i knew them both well. they're both good. >> when you go through a debate like this with either one of them, did you think, okay, he's really hot now, i mean he's sort of ratcheting this up so i need to do it -- >> no. as you recall most of the debates, up until the second one, presidential debates were generally pretty level. i didn't engage -- i don't remember another one just like the second one. i don't think most americans like that. they don't like the interrupting. they want to learn and it doesn't help when both of them are talking. i would point out that obama interrupted romney twice as many times as romney interrupted him. obviously it was a compensation for perceived passivity in the
first debate. >> when you're like this hour, this final hour, what were you doing? what's going through your mind? >> i was with friends trying to relax and try not to get too tensed up. you're with friends and shoot the breeze and kind of try to stay as relaxed as possible. and be happy. be happy that you're there. be honored that, you know, a person like me was so fortunate to be on the stage competing for the presidency of the united states. >> and when you -- you said earlier you want to be on because you know what the eight questions are. go ahead. what are they going to be tonight? >> i think obviously libya will be one of them. i think another one will be the defense spending and much is necessary. i think china's clearly going to be another one of the issues. our commitments to how much of defense spending and how much we can reduce. as you know, that's an attack
line of the president's. and i think a vision. they're going to ask about vision, what kind of america do you want to see five years from now. that's just a brief summary. >> finally, if you're looking at this for mitt romney, you would say to him, here's the trap door, don't fall moo it. what's the trap door? >> the trap door is that president obama will try to convince the american people that he is too hawkish and that he would -- americans are war weary, that he would get us into wars in the middle east and around the world. and he will brag on getting out in 2014 from afghanistan. he won't talk about the unraveling in iraq and afghanistan and this debacle in libya, but he's good and i would never underestimate the president of the united states. the american people like him. but mitt's been -- we've been pretty proud of mitt. >> john, thank you so much. i really appreciate it. wolf, back to you. >> thanks very much. we're also getting a glimpse of
mitt romney and his family backstage before tonight's huge debate. his aide posted this photo on twitter. check out the background. someone apparently put up photos of romney and his family up on the wall. making him feel a little bit better. our political reporter peter javier is on the phone getting some inside information on what we can expect. what are you learning? >> hey, wolf. yeah. cnn's just actually obtained internal campaign talking points about foreign policy and i want to read some of them to you real quick just to give you some clues as to what romney is going to say tonight. now the campaign regularly circulates sort of message points as campaigns start to get them, republican officials to try to keep them on the message of the day. i want to read one of these message points that we've obtained that the romney campaign is telling their allies to talk about tonight. they're saying, "under his leadership," romney, that is, "no friend of america will question our commitment to support them. no enemy that attacks america will question our resolve to
defeat them, and no one anywhere, friend or foe, will doubt america's capability to back up our word." wolf, if we're reading these for sort of clues as to what romney's going to do tonight, i think we can infer obviously that he's trying to project an image of strength, clarity, amid this effort by the romney campaign to say that the second term agenda for obama is nothing more than a muddle and a bunch of mixed messaging. so again, i think we can expect as you guys have been talking about, romney to project an image of strength tonight. wolf? >> peter, thanks very much. mark preston's our political director. he's also getting inside information on romney's strategy. mark, what are you learning? >> wolf, senior aides involved in the governor's debate prep tell me that tonight will be much different than what we witnessed last week. the goal for governor romney in this debate is to demonstrate that he be commander in chief. his senior aides believe he's proven it when it comes to the economy, and tonight le do it on foreign policy. while the focus of the debate
tonight is on foreign policy, expect governor romney to talk a fair amount about the connection between foreign policy and economic policy. really emphasizing that the nation's adversaries and our allies see the u.s. economy as a major weakness. on the issue of libya, senior aides say that governor romney's prepared to talk about benghazi but don't expect him to drill down on it, such as engaging in a back and forth on the timeline. rather, he will use this as an opportunity to offer a broad critique of president obama's foreign policy decision emphasizing that the united states has less influence in the middle east and that this part of the world is more unstable now than when obama took office. wolf? >> good to know. thanks very much for that, mark prest preston. not really surprised hearing from we heard heard from peter hamby about giving back as much as possible and romney talking points. >> surprisingly predictable. we've talked about that for the
last couple of hours. saying basically we think that's probably where someone would go. lo and behold, sounds like they are. >> one thing we haven't talked about is defense. i think they're really going to start talking about the trillion ondollars dollars in budget cuts that the president would have. >> we've heard both sides on these debates. their lines are pretty well rehearsed at this point in terms of president obama saying he's asked for more money than the pentagon has asked for. governor romney countering that. >> we're going to see that again. >> i think at this part, david made this point -- they recognize this is the last time they have this opportunity. this is the last time they have a huge audience to get across an unfiltered message. and if i were advising them, i would say, even though i do foreign policy, i would say make sure you spend a lot of time talking about the economy. make sure you talk about your general message and the things you want people to remember about you. because this is your last shot. >> this is it. >> romney has improved his
likability over the course of the debates. that's a challenge tonight when talking about a subject that's not so personal, if you will, foreign policy. see if he can work on that. i think the president understands the dynamic of the race. he needs to be optimistic and again get back to the economy. they both get closing statements in this debate so that will be a campaign ad. they'll look straight to the camera and know what they want to say. >> any time that anyone gets in the ring with the commander in chief -- >> we're looking obviously michelle obama coming in to the auditorium at the university. >> their most important debate coaches, apparently the wives, here. any time anyone gets in the ring with a heavyweight champ, it elevates you. tonight mitt romney's going to be in the ring with the commander in chief. a confidence performance would tend, i think as david said, to level the field and would bring romney up. >> you think -- >> there's ann romney and her kids around her as well. >> does romney need to win tonight? >> i think romney would be very happy with letting barack obama have a slight victory on foreign
policy come out of this being seen as an alternative, possibility as commander in chief. i think holding his own is enough because the super bowl isn't being played in this stadium in frop tonight. it is being played in the stadium next door -- the economy. a tie here, let's go back to the economy where he is improving his stock. >> i think in order for him to do what you say, he's going to have to do something that's very hard. he's going to have to ignore 70% of his own advisors. romney's advisors, 70% are from the bush era. john bolton as an advisor. in order to do well tonight he'll have to ignore all those advisors. >> he's going to have to say what he believes. >> if he does say what his advisors are for, he's going to scare -- >> where does barack obama get his secretary of defense? i'm just curious. >> most presidential candidates don't know what they think about
foreign policy. they just -- they do what seems convenient. >> that's why the advisors are so important. >> but he ignored the bush advisers in that economic debate last time. he threw all the bushies under the bus last time. >> temperament question. americans have a history of electing governors. a lot of governors get this question. ronald reagan was the loose canon wca cannon who was going to start the war. americans traditionally elect governors president and governors have limited or no foreign policy experience. >> you see ann romney on the center of your screen, michelle obama to the right. michelle obama diagonally behind first lady michelle obama. ann romney surrounded by some of her sons. >> in talking to ann romney over the course of this campaign, she says when mitt romney gets in that room, he looks for her because he kind of looks for her approval during the entire debate. as we said, he gets to the podium and he writes "dad" on a piece of paper to remind him how
his father would have conducted himself. you can see she's kind of -- >> he also takes off his watch, puts it on the podium. none of that looking at your wrist watch. >> the dynamic of sitting around a table doesn't really change what the candidates do as much as you'd like to think. >> the biden debate proved that. >> still very tough. you still say, look, i respect and love my opponent, he's a great guy, terrific guy. it is just i'm amazed he's so wrong on one, two and three. i don't think it will limit these guys tonight from drawing some very sharp contrast. >> i think it is going to be interesting, some of the things that wind up not getting discussed tonight. there are some things that are important. climate change, for instance is probably going to redraw the world's maps because you're going to have sea level rise. that's going to create tremendous controversy. >> i don't think anybody's used that phrase climate change. >> think of the things that impact foreign policy in the united states. you have a youth bulge in the world, a global youth bulge.
you got to have half a billion or a billion young people without jobs. probably won't be discussed. >> that's a very good point. when we end up talking about our crises, foreign policy is actually a much broader palate and the president has to deal with that, relations with latin america, of course relations with china, the complicated dance of cooperation and conflict. we'll end up talking about probably security of the consulate in benghazi. it is perhaps understandable but it is really a microcosm. it is a set of flash points rather than talking about the big issues that are shaping the world. >> mitt romney does talk a lot about trying to increase trade with latin america. he will reference that again. >> there is an opportunity for mitt romney to bring economics into the foreign policy debate tonight. one of the things we're going to see in this world in the next 20 years is an expanding middle class globally. is that a challenge, a competitive challenge for the united states? is it a tremendous opportunity? this country has built tremendous success selling stuff
to middle class. and that could be mitt romney's -- >> most of that middle class is in china. right now he's determined -- >> let's go back to wolf right now. >> new economic frontier. >> anderson, thanks. ann romney and michelle obama look lovely tonight but you can see they're both a little nervous, understandably so, as their husbands get ready for this third and final debate. soledad o'brien's with a special group of folks in orlando, florida right now. our focus group, undecided voters. soledad, we'll see that squiggly line at the bottom of the screen. >> we're going to be following exactly what they're feeling as they watch the debate. i want to give you more information about our focus group tonight. a racial breakdown -- 76% of the focus group is white, 20% black, 4% asian. remember, we're not really talking about representing the community here in orlando. we're talking about a very narrow sliver of people who say they're both undecided and likely voters. that's why you sort of see the layout that you see. in this group we have a nurse,
we have five people who are retired, two folks who are unemployed, somebody who works in the hospitality industry, a couple of folks who work in finance, accountant, consulta s consultants. jay kaplin describes himself as a retired job creator. >> the thing that's bothered me from the beginning is the word job creator thrown around as if business people make hiring decisions based on tax policy or government policy. business people have always made decisions on hiring people whether or not they can make more money. i'd like to get a little more n integrity in the responses to the questions about what economic policies are going to do that will help people sell more things so they can hire more people. >> you might be disappointed tonight because the conversation is about foreign policy. it might be something you do not hear in this debate tonight. might leave you undecided at the end of the night. sara jackson, you've been unemployed for quite a while now after 45 years of work. what do you feed to hear
tonight? >> basically what i want to hear concerning foreign policy is what steps they will take to bring back -- or to give back to americans those jobs that over the last 12 years have been sent overseas. >> thank you you. down here, kathleen, you've worked as a local director for the american cancer society. >> yes. >> there are many folks who have said to me people who are undecided this late in the game cannot be telling the truth. it's only 15 days. everybody here really secretly inside has made their decision. you were almost offended by that. >> i was surprised that anyone might think i'm faking. i'm taking it very seriously. so tonight is very important to me. i've watched both the debates and this third one, i hope, will help me make a final decision. but i just feel that i need someone to kind of rock my world tonight so that i'll make my decision. >> wow. kathleen jansen is waiting for someone to rock her world
tonight. well, we'll hope you are not disappointed this evening. to all of our testers, good luck. we'll follow what you're seeing tonight. >> anxious to hear what they say after the debate as well. dan lothian outside the debate hall in boca raton at lynn university at a watch party. what's going on over there? >> that's right. we're about six miles away from the campus of lynn university. this is an outdoor rally, convert, neon trees, popular group, just finished performing here. this is sponsored by rock the vote. obviously the big push here is to get folks to register to vote. i'm joined by an undecided voter, lindsey. right? lindsey ackerman. what is it that you're waiting to hear before you will make up your mind. >> well, the race is very close right now. tonight the final debate is very crucial on how i will pick a candidate. i'm looking for everything all around. i'm a teacher so education is very important for me so i'm looking to see which candidate
will best suit me. >> you have just -- you told me that when foreign policy, it's very important to you. you want a president who's very strong on foreign policy but because you're a teacher, you're more focused on domestic issues. what is it that really drives you and will push you when you go to vote? >> it's very important for people to support teachers and the education process. students are important in the world and how you teach is important. so foreign policy -- >> just a second, guys. i'm going to interrupt for a second because bob schieffer, the cbs news moderator for tonight's debate, is addressing the crowd right now. >> -- from the longest i can remember to be a reporter when i was a little boy. and i was a lucky guy, because i got to do when i grew up what i wanted to do back in those days. it's been a wonderful life. these debates have become such an important part of our election process in this country
that i hope we'll have a great debate tonight. i just like to reiterate what you have already been told. we have to be quiet as mice throughout this because we want a debate that is worthy of the presidency. of the greatest country in the world. thank you all for coming. >> that's bob schieffer. he's going to moderate this 90-minute debate. candy, you did it six days ago so you can certainly appreciate what bob schieffer is about to go through. >> it is. but it's his third time, as he mentioned in the walk-up to this. as you know, very laid back guy. very in control. this is going to and terrific debate. wolf, i wanted to bring in a democratic strategist paul begala, republican strategist
ari fleischer. right now these guys are looking at about six minutes. what's going through their mind and who's talking to them? >> well, the great tragedy is that their spouses aren't with them. these are both guys who are seriously overmarried. they have really remarkable spouses and they always do better whether their wives are around. their wives can't be backstage with limb. which i think is unfair. usually a few close aides. president clinton liked to bounce a basketball around and talk about mystery novels just to clear his head. as he walk out, i'd always whit per in his ear, trust your instincts. something pops in your head, say it. >> paul's right. get your mine off of it. there's no more prepping to be done. it better have been done already. two things came to my mind with george w. bush. humor and prayer. you want to get them in a light frame of mind going in here. he would make irreverent jokes, cracking people up around him. it showed he was loose. but he would also stop and pray. i have a feeling mitt romney's going to do this same thing.
who knows, maybe president obama will, too. it was always an important moment for president bush. he will do it when nobody was around. that's how he would collect himself. >> mitt romney's having the first words, this was all a coin toss. he's having the first word and the last word. how important is the closing argument? they get two minutes. >> sounds like romney's prayers have been answered already in one way getting to begin the debate and close it. ronald reagan won the presidency with his closing statement in the 1980 october debate. are you better off now than you were 12 years before. >> the fact that mitt romney gets the final close, it's helpful. you want to go in to the off-season on your notes. and hopefully on a win.
>> jessica yellin, getting last-minute information on the president, what he's planning on doing. >> reporter: aides say the president is feeling confident this time ready to come out on the offensive. of all the debates, this is the one that's really in his had wheelhouse, they say, because foreign policy is a language that he's so comfortable in and they believe that there are areas he can exploit, areas of weakness for. i look at that picture of the two first ladies. this is the first night i see mrs. obama looking comfortable and not nervous and tense. it seems that the president and the body language from camp obama is much more relaxed tonight and i'm told the president did a walk-through of the debate stage earlier today and felt good. wolf, back to you. >> jim acosta is getting last-minute information about mitt romney and who he's getting ready for this debate. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. we've seen some pictures tweeted out by the campaign showing the former massachusetts governor trying to relax with his family but i talked to a senior romney
aide who said he's feeling nervous, feeling a little sick to his stomach and said he was looking forward to eating solid foods after this campaign is over. one person who's feeling all right this evening, wolf, is the governor's body man, garrett jackson, his personal assistant. he got this photo earlier this afternoon with he and governor romney sitting at the debate roundtable in one of their lighter moments before this debate later on this evening, wolf. as you know, one of the job descriptions of the personal assistant for a republican presidential candidate, at least in this case, is to keep things light. that's what they were trying to do earlier today. >> we'll see how cool they are. anderson. got about two minutes left before this debate. very quickly, primer for viewers, everybody, what are you going to be looking for? >> how often they turn international challenges back to the united states economy and the temperament question. one is the commander in chief. one wants to be the commander in chief. it won't be as hot tonight. >> how comfortable each candidate makes us feel if he is the commander in chief, how
calm, how deliberative, how thoughtful he'll be about the use of force. but also strong. i think i am also looking to see who wins because the winner may well be the next president. >> i think what you are looking -- what i'm looking for is a candidate who can be reassuring to me in a crazy world in which we live and to see whether can be strong without being bellicose. >> if you hear a lot about the auto bailout, jobs, trade and china, it means ohio really is the deciding factor in this election. >> this is the last time we're going to see these two men together. so this is not only the debate about foreign policy, this is the last chapter of the book of the campaign. which of these guys is going to lift our eyes over the horizon a little bit and say we can do better than this, we can be a safer, stronger and more press p prosperous country and make us feel that optimism. >> this is the last time barack obama will debate. for i think a lot of people, at